Alas, Babylon

Mass Market Paperback

English language

Published Feb. 1, 1984 by Spectra.


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4 stars (3 reviews)

A story of a group of people who rely on their own courage and ingenuity to survive in a town which escaped nuclear bombing.

13 editions

Review of 'Alas, Babylon' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

It was interesting to read this book just after completing "The City, Not Long After" and just before the threats against South Korea and the US coming from Pyongyang picked up in frequency. Published in '59, "Alas, Babylon" is, to be sure, a product of its era in many ways. The gender and racial politics observed by the third-person narrator (of alternating limited-omniscience) are interesting, in that they are challenged by the post-WWIII environment in some ways, and reinforced in other ways ("color lines" break down, to an extent, while gender roles are seen as necessary to maintaining the structure of civilization and the preservation of females themselves). In this sense, I preferred Murphy's post-apocalyptic San Francisco in "The City, Not Long After," but of course, her book was released in '88.

The thing that surprised me the most as I began reading "Alas, Babylon" was how detailed the explanation …

Review of 'Alas, Babylon' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Alas, Babylon is a very good story with characters that are easily relate-able and sympathetic. Written in 1959, it's a horrifying account of the effects of nuclear war upon a small Florida town. Though fiction, Pat Frank was attempting to present an accurate, instructional portrayal of the aftermath of the likely scale of war we might have faced at that time.

Where it falls a bit short of that goal is Frank's decision to present what is ultimately a best-case scenario. The setting is a rural area far from strategic targets, possessed of decent people, strong, moral leaders with a modicum of forewarning, and a natural environment capable of providing most necessities.

It doesn't have the emotional heft of The Road, but is also not lurid or melodramatic. I'm guessing he'd have written this a bit differently after the up-tick in nuclear capabilities by, say, 1989.

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rated it

5 stars


  • Science Fiction - General
  • Non-Classifiable
  • Fiction - Science Fiction
  • Science Fiction